Research Explores the Positives of Bipolar Disorder

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Yes, Virginia.  There are positives to living with Bipolar Disorder. A new study by Lancaster University has captured the views of people who report some highly-valued, positive experiences while living with the condition.  I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read an article that, for once, actually calls out some of the positives – and yes there are some – about this serious mental illness.

I do not believe I could have accomplished all I have without BP, and if there were an Off switch I wouldn’t press it.  Without BP, my senses wouldn’t have been acute enough nor my cognition rapid enough to have realized all I have professionally. I’ve held the high-functioning professional job, at times found studying for the higher level qualifications simple and added impressive accomplishments to my resume. Bipolar has in many ways enhanced my life.

Of course, there is the flip side to mania.  Depression is awful.   But depression can enrich the human experience.  Even through all of the misery it causes, depression can help fine-tune one’s sense of empathy.

Medication – that is a whole topic unto itself.  But there are some BPs who have found the proper cocktail and are living fulfilling lives.

Yes, Bipolar is a serious and it should not be treated lightly.  Personal relationships suffer, suicide rates increase and drug and alcohol addiction is more prevalent.  Just take a look at the statistics on a wonderful infographic Candida Abrahmson included in one of her posts.  But not everything about Bipolar has to be evil.  Not every person with BP is a quivering wreck in an alleyway or in a prison cell for a heinous crime.  There are some of us who have benefited.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were more press about the positive aspects and accomplishments we BPs have made instead of all of the bad behavior, pain and misery and how Bipolar is being used as an accessory du jour.

28 thoughts on “Research Explores the Positives of Bipolar Disorder

    Sandy Sue said:
    May 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I watched the Steven Fry video here a few posts back. It’s very hard to guess how my life would be different without BP, since I’ve had it all my life. Perhaps I would still be creative, intelligent and compassionate. Perhaps I would still be doing the kind of work I’m doing, only able to hold a job and support myself instead of living on Social Security. Perhaps I still would have gotten divorced and severed many relationships, but maybe not. Since I’m always waiting for the “stable” periods to cycle back, I think it would be delusional for me to say I value my BP. I manage it. I accept it. But, I think if I could push a button to get rid of it, I would.

      ManicMuses responded:
      May 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      I completely respect that, Sandy. I wish I had that button for you to push.

    candidaabrahamson said:
    May 4, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    First, thank you for the mention–I think the infographic is pretty great, too. But more importantly, you’ve once again found another fantastic piece of research–new and innovative and intriguing. I’d like to do some follow-up on it, crediting you with showing me the article, as long as you’re comfortable with that. I don’t know how you do it–but keep it up!

      ManicMuses responded:
      May 5, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Hi! Absolutely – feel free to ping back on anything I write/articles I find. I’m flattered! I hope all is well. Keep up the great work yourself – I really love your blog, Candida.

        candidaabrahamson said:
        May 5, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        Thank you–for the lovely words and willingness to share. There are actually some other studies on the same topic–they paint a picture that’s compelling, but complicated. Meanwhile, I found your comments most meaningful, particularly: “[I]f here were an Off switch I wouldn’t press it. . . Bipolar has in many ways enhanced my life.” An inspirational way to look at a difficult diagnosis.

    Monday said:
    May 4, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Finally some support that we can be highly trained professionals and lead successful lives! Thank you for sharing this article. :)

      ManicMuses responded:
      May 5, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      You’re welcome! I’m trying to find more so I can create a single post of links to positive info. Hope you’re doing well!

    boldkevin said:
    May 4, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Hi MM,

    Excellent piece. Would it be ok if I reblogged it to the Mental HEalth Writer’s Guild ? I think our members would really appreciate it.

    Many thanks

    Kevin

      ManicMuses responded:
      May 5, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Glad you liked it! Feel free to share anything I publish/articles I find. I love to share info. Hope your day is going well – Vivien

    boldkevin said:
    May 5, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Reblogged this on Mental Health Writers' Guild and commented:
    This is an excellent piece written by one of our members. I highly reccommend it to you.

    lizziecracked said:
    May 5, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Yay! This has been my goal – to show a positive side to the this disorder and help not only people that don;t understand it and are afraid of it but those that suffer from it as well see that for all the bad things, for the unbearable darkness, there is indeed light. Thank you for posting this.

    candidaabrahamson said:
    May 6, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    I’m back again, having looked at the original–and am still so appreciative to you for having brought this fascinating topic into open conversation. The part that concerns me about it is where participants seem grateful for their manic states–which I believe most BD people have felt, but which is concerning, as depression follows that elevation as surely as night follows day, and I worry that touting the positives of the upper pole might even encourage medication non-compliants. The summary piece writes, “Participants described a wide range of experiences and internal states that they believed they felt to a far greater intensity than those without the condition. These included increased perceptual sensitivity, creativity, focus and clarity of thought.” Those are results of mania/hypomania. When you feel grateful for your BD, do you feel thankful for components that don’t results from mood elevation (not the extra sociability, productivity, creativity, etc.)? Or is it mostly for the mania (actue senses, advancement in professionalism)? Would love your additional input.

      ManicMuses responded:
      May 7, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      The mania piece is certainly delicious…I’ll never deny that. I thought about your question some more and have to admit there are benefits beyond the mania. Depression teaches you to be empathetic. Having experienced the human condition spectrum in a broader sense than the av-er-age bear certainly opens the door to being more sensitive when I’m in a stable state. Stability is also a time to be more insightful. You *have* to keep checking in with yourself every day to see if there’s a swing occurring, and if there isn’t, you’ve already laid the groundwork to further explore what is going on around you. I’m more thoughtful than a lot of folks around me and therefore am able to come up with insights and solutions a lot of my ‘normal’ friends and colleagues overlook…or never look to at all. That’s when being Bipolar positively impacts me and those around me when I’m not having an episode. Yeah, it definitely can be positive for all associated. :)

      I hope this helps. Thanks for spurring on the conversation!

        candidaabrahamson said:
        May 7, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        That helps terrifically–and is, indeed, quite insightful. You address positives of BD in a way that shows you have been ennobled by the process, and have the lanaguage to communicate it. Thank YOU–for your meaningful response, and for spurring the conversation, which YOU did, with a great reference in your blog!

        ManicMuses responded:
        May 8, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        Ugh – your reply was stuck in my Spam folder. Thanks so much, Candida. BP sure is a helluva ride, but there are positives that come with it. :)

        candidaabrahamson said:
        May 7, 2012 at 4:48 PM

        Do you want this copied over on the Mental Health Writers’ Guild, which I could do for you, or are you content enough to leave it between the two of us?

        ManicMuses responded:
        May 8, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your reply – it was stuck in my Spam folder. (I think another one of your replies from late last month was in there, too.)

        If it isn’t already copied over to the MHWG feel free to do so. Thanks!

    [...] Abrahamson, (one of our members) made the following comment in response to a reblog I made of an excellent piece that another of our members, Manic Muses, had written…. “I was so appreciative to Manic [...]

    boldkevin said:
    May 7, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Hi both.
    I have commented on this both briefly here and in more detail over on the Guild blog but have been thinking about it for a while now since then. In specifics I have considered Candida’s comments about the possibility of mediation non-coimpliants.

    One of the things that I think it is very important to stress when discussing those manic states is that those same manic states have in some cases wrecked lives and relationships – through folk going out of control as a result of them – mad spending sprees, extreme behaviours and the such.

    Medication can often give some control or management of this but that is even more reason to stick with the medication and not to go off of it or adjust it.

    Just a thought.
    Kind Regards

    Kevin

      ManicMuses responded:
      May 7, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      Hi, Kevin: Oh, Absolutely. When listing the positive aspects of a hypomanic/manic state one should also list the negatives in the same breath. It’s an interesting disease, isn’t it? In addition to the larger mood spectrum we live in, even the positives and negatives have to be counted in the extremes.

      Hope you’re doing well!
      Vivien

    carlarenee45 said:
    May 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    It is great that people are feeling such positivity about their condition. But stating these accounts is not going to make those that are not enjoying a positive bipolar life become one. A lot of this isn’t a matter of positive attitude but of each individual situation. Bipolar has kept me from being able to keep a job, or be consistant. Mania hasn’t made me do great things. It has caused me to be wreckless and make damaging poor decisions. I will say that the right medicine has kept that at bay. I don’t suffer from any real depression but I have lost a lot of feeling, abilty to express myself, creativity, and focus. I have learned over the years with the help of God to manage the BP and live my life without too many problems. But I and a lot of people would never say that BP has changed their life in a positive way. Unless you account for learning patience, self control, letting God guide your decidions, and all those things you learn from lifes trials. Hearing all the hype of BP helping or causing people to go on to great careers, creative talents and empowerment can seem hard to believe to the average BP person. I believe this is the exception pertaining to the illness and not really a new trend.

      ManicMuses responded:
      May 7, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      He there – good to ‘see’ you again! It’s so true, not everyone with BP has found it to be a mystical experience that has allowed them to become a paragon among men. A lot of people actually suffer from the disease. I think you put it beautifully, though; learning patience, self control, letting God guide your decisions is something I cannot say I’ve seen a lot of from people without Bipolar Disorder. Yes, it is a matter of attitude and perspective. And the grass isn’t always greener on ‘our’ side.

      candidaabrahamson said:
      May 8, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      Carla–your point is so important, and I think it really IS well-accepted how damaging BD can be. The article Vivien quotes starts off with a catalog of statistics about the havoc it wreaks. And you are absolutely right–there are some, a small percentage, who are inspired by great bursts of creativity while manic, and that got extra hype from Kay Ray Jamison’s book on the artistic temperament. But most, the great majority, do not do great things when manic–but are, indeed, often self-destructive. The article got ‘play’ not because it’s a new trend, but because it’s unusual. Please don’t feel alone in your suffering. Best always, Candida

        carlarenee45 said:
        May 8, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        no I don’t feel alone, I know this idea had to be unusual. I just wanted to share what I did to keep it balanced. It can be very depressing for those of us who have had great struggles and made life changing bad decisions because of BP, when we hear that people are actually having a joy ride with it lol. It can be a trigger.

    bilafond said:
    May 29, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    I have read all the comments above and exactly for this reason I have posted my story as a parent. A father who lost his so who was very special. I liked the word “Mentally Interesting”. My son I I interacted very closely and I had to sift through a heap of files from the net to write his story. I was hesitant to share but I realized I must because every story leaves some step and way forward for those who are special. My son had the highest mental prowess and his 22 poems he wrote me are testimony to this fact. Hope everyone will take a moment to say and write something
    http://www.squidoo.com/my-son-was-a-bipolar

      ManicMuses responded:
      June 2, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      Thank you so much for reading my blog and sharing. There really are positives to being Bipolar. The mental prowess as you said and the mental acuity that can come with the disease are awe-inspiring. I read some of Moody’s passages you posted. They are truly beautiful. You are brave for sharing and I hope you found some solace in being able to talk about his disorder and share with us. If you would ever like to drop me a line and share more of his poetry I would love to hear from you. manicmuses @ gmail . com

        bilafond said:
        June 3, 2012 at 11:41 PM

        Sent you mail hope you got it

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